A memorial is a special way to commemorate your loved ones and there are various types of remembrance scheme available through Northumberland County Council.
Types of memorials available
Any memorial on a grave must be installed by a registered monumental mason who has been approved to work by Northumberland County Council. Before a memorial can be placed on a grave, there is a minimum settling time of six months after the funeral. The monumental mason will ensure all necessary paperwork is given to the relevant cemetery.
You do not have to use the memorial mason recommended by your funeral director and you may wish to compare quotes from different companies. A list of approved masons is available from the county council by calling 0345 600 6400.
Subject to approval, vases are permitted in all council cemeteries. This is usually accompanied by an application from a monumental mason and a payment. Before a memorial can be placed on a grave, there is a minimum settling time of six months after the funeral.
If you wish to place a memorial of any description on a grave, it has to be approved by the council and the appropriate fee paid. Otherwise, we have the right to remove it without informing you.
Designated lawn section of the cemetery:
- height restriction of three feet six inches (1050mm)
- width restriction of three feet (900mm)
Cremated remains lawn section:
- height restriction of two feet six inches (750mm)
- width restriction of two feet (600mm)
No kerbs or railing surrounds are allowed in the lawn sections as these may cause damage to maintenance equipment or potential injury to operatives or other visitors to the cemetery. Also, maintenance to these sections cannot be completed to a high standard.
In some cemeteries, we have installed a concrete plinth to accommodate memorials. However, if there is no plinth you will still be allowed to have the memorial installed as soon as possible.
It is the memorial owner’s responsibility to maintain memorials in a safe condition throughout the period of the exclusive right of burial.
Bereavement service staff will be carrying out routine inspections of all memorials.
Memorial safety check and repair
Northumberland County Council is following guidelines from the Ministry of Justice to inspect memorials at least once every five years.
Why are we testing memorials?
Over the past five years, there have been accidents involving members of the public in cemeteries across the country and several have been fatal. This is why councils inspect memorials at least once every five years.
What happens if a memorial is identified as being unstable?
The exclusive right of burial (deed holder) will receive a letter and it will be their responsibility to arrange suitable repairs. Any repairs should only be carried out by an approved Northumberland County Council monumental mason.
Who is responsible for the safety of a memorial?
It is the responsibility of the deed holder to the grave.
What have we done to contact owners?
There have been notices posted within the cemetery grounds about the safety inspection process. We encourage all memorial owners or visitors to the graves to update current contact details so we can keep them informed of future memorial inspections. You can contact neighbourhood services on 0345 6006400 to update your details.
How do we test?
Our staff will carry out the safety testing survey. First, a visual inspection will identify the type of memorial and its condition. Second, using slight hand pressure, the stability of the memorial is measured to ensure it isn’t a danger to the public. We employ a risk assessment scale to record this data:
- Red high risk - memorials requiring immediate remedial work to make safe
- Amber medium – memorials requiring maintenance work within six months
- Green low – memorials requiring maintenance work within one year
Each memorial within every cemetery and churchyard under the service's jurisdiction shall be inspected in accordance with the above classifications. The inspection scheme shall be reviewed on an annual basis.
We will write to a deed owner, providing we have up-to-date records, if the memorial has been classified between red, amber and green. This informs them of the safety inspection findings and offers advice.
What to do if you are advised your memorial is unsafe?
We understand this news may be upsetting and we apologise for any distress caused. If your memorial requires work to make it safe, you can employ a Northumberland County Council-registered monumental mason to reinstate the memorial’s foundation or carry out repair work.
If you choose to have your memorial repaired, please use the documents we provide. Do not attempt to repair or remove the memorial yourself. Only approved Northumberland County Council monumental masons should carry out this kind of work.
What are we doing now?
We are continuing to implement a safety inspection programme of memorials within the eight council-managed cemeteries and numerous churchyards countywide. We will do all we can to ease the upset that may be caused by this safety action.
How can you help?
Ensure your contact details are up-to-date by calling neighbourhood services on 0345 600 6400. Please also use this number if you are concerned about the safety of your memorial. For peace of mind, we recommend buying insurance cover. Please consult a registered monumental mason for company recommendations.
Be aware cemeteries are potentially dangerous places. Visitors should keep to footpaths, avoid touching memorials and ensure children are supervised at all times.
Within Northumberland, we have a substantial amount of war memorials in local authority cemeteries and churchyards. These graves are owned by the War Graves Commission.
If you require any information regarding the war memorials, please contact:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2 Marlow Road
Tel: +44 (0) 1628 634221
Fax: +44 (0) 1628 771208
Tel: +44 (0) 1628 507200
United Kingdom Area
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Warwickshire CV31 1XS
Tel: +44 (0) 1926 330137
Fax: +44 (0) 1926 456595
Blyth Crematorium memorials
Bronze memorial plaques can only be applied for and installed through Northumberland County Council. It can be fixed for 10 years to the edging along the paths in the garden of remembrance. The bronze memorial plaque is nine inches in length and three inches in depth and the inscription is cast.
Most families only wish for one name on the inscription, but it is possible to have two, as long as the inscription isn’t more than 75 letters, including spaces, on the five lines.
Memorial plaques in designated cemeteries
Where appropriate, brass memorial plaques are available to lease for a period of 10 years. They measure at six inches by four inches and can have an inscription of your choice and can only be applied for and installed through Northumberland County Council.
Once approved, memorial benches with a bronze plaque can be purchased and placed in a suitable location in Northumberland if space is available. Provision of a memorial bench must be done solely through the council as this is a standardised agreed build. All memorial benches and plaques come with a 10-year lease, which is renewable.
The book of remembrance at Blyth Crematorium
The book is kept at the crematorium in the book of remembrance room, open 365 days a year.
Application forms to have a loved one’s name included in this book are available from the crematorium office or in the book of remembrance room.
Book of remembrance room opening times:
- April to September - opens at 8am and closes at 8pm
- October to March - opens at 8am and closes at 4:30pm
Please note: the door in the book of remembrance room will automatically be locked at closing time each day, however any person still in the room will still be able to leave.
Memorial cards & miniature books of remembrance
Memorial cards and miniature books of remembrance are intended as a personal remembrance. Once applied for, they will be sent to the applicant direct from the manufacturers.
They provide family records and could be sent to distant relatives and friends. The books/cards are of very high quality and will have the same craftsmanship and inscription as seen in the large books at Blyth crematorium.
Examples can be seen at Blyth crematorium. Application forms are available from the crematorium office or in the book of remembrance room.
The garden of remembrance
The garden of remembrance has been constructed as a memorial to all who have been cremated at Blyth crematorium.
If required, your loved one's cremated remains can be scattered in this area.